Revealed: RAC Approved Used Car Check

Can you trust that the vehicle has really been inspected by the RAC?

It’s one of my bad habits and my wife does complain.

To me, cars are a little addictive and I spend a lot of free time surfing the internet checking out used car prices, warranties and finance packages that are new on the market.

During one of my surfing sessions I came across a dealer known as I visited their site because earlier that day I’d heard an ad of theirs on the local radio promoting the fact that they’ve joined the RAC’s Sure Buy Initiative.


If you’re wondering what their initiative is, I found an excerpt from the RAC’s press release department, regarding the Carbase certification, which quotes:


Carbase has committed to an 82-point RAC Approved Preparation Standard on every vehicle, a minimum of three months’ RAC Warranty cover, three months of complimentary RAC Roadside Breakdown cover and enrolment to RAC Accident Management Service in support of its customers in the event of an accident.


So that means the RAC have carried out their own 82-point check on every car that Carbase sells, Right?


Well this is where it gets a little cloudy and I would say, unethical and misleading.

The 82 point check that is being used is lure to build trust and authority in an already saturated market. It’s nothing more than a check that the RAC set out as a minimum standard that “the dealer” and I repeat, “the dealer” must carry out themselves.


Here is a direct quote from the RAC website and it reads:

The RAC Approved Preparation Standard is a standard set by the RAC to ensure a consistent minimum level of vehicle preparation by all Approved dealers as part of the RAC BuySure programme.

This basically means that the RAC are dictating a standard and Carbase are agreeing to set that standard on “some” of their cars.

It does not mean the RAC carry out a vehicle inspection and there’s no guarantee (and in fact it’s quite unlikely) that the RAC will ever even clamp eyes on the car before you buy it.

In fact the RAC perform 6 audits a year, that’s it! No inspection, no 82 point check carried out by an RAC technician.


Source: The RAC

Listen, I’m not in the habit of putting down businesses that are ultimately trying to make money and offer an exceptional service. The RAC is certainly a reputable name and Carbase appear to be doing what they can to allow prospects to feel a sense of ease when buying a used car.

I do however challenge Carbase and the RAC themselves because they are misleading people into thinking that their cars have superior preparation compared to the rest of the market.

They do not.

Only Carbase know how much time is invested into their cars before they go on the market to the public. Not you, not me and not the RAC.

I decided to contact Carbase and do a bit more digging.

As I was surfing later in the evening I used their “live chat” system to find out more about their relationship with the RAC and exactly what’s on offer.

Here’s the conversation:


Notice how the salesman captured my details? Not so versed in the RAC Assured Initiative but well trained in sales and lead capture!

Anyway, here’s the email sent the following day:


I decided not to respond to Jason’s email. I was a little disappointed with his response too. Little effort was put into helping with my enquiry. He mostly wanted to talk to me on the phone and discuss which car I was interested in. It is from that position that he can begin to convince me and overcome my objections. I’d rather not.

However he did send me a copy of the “RAC check list” that Carbase allegedley carry out on each car.

Here’s a copy of that report, for your pleasure:

RAC 82 Point RAPS Checklist 31.07.13 (1)

Have you taken a look?


If I’m buying a used car I’d rather have that checklist than not but there are some worrying aspects.

Section 3 part 5: “Ensure all structural body repairs/accidents damage have been repaired using manufacturers approved methods”

Yes, just like every other dealer around the country that’s NOT “RAC Suredrive Assured”, some of the cars they sell have had accidents.

Section 3 part 6: “Ensure correct body panel fitting and alignment”

I accept that some cars have had accidents and been repaired. I also know that sometimes, if the accident wasn’t too significant, the car may still serve you well and be reliable.

But does the RAC 82 point check, that’s not been carried out by the RAC, but in fact by the dealer selling the car, really give you peace of mind? Especially when you know, by their own admission, that some cars undergoing the check will have been involved in accidents?

I will leave that decision up to you, the buyer.


The reason car dealers like Carbase want to affiliate themselves with organisations like the RAC is because it builds trust and sells more cars. It’s more of a branding exercise than an exceptional customer satisfaction experience. So don’t be fooled into thinking you are better off buying with an RAC Suredrive check because I don’t believe you are.

Like most of the other used car dealers around the country, Carbase buy most of their cars from car auctions Like Manheim and BCA (British Car Auctions.) They clean them up, carry out essential repairs to bodywork, trim and mechanical and sell the car on for a profit.

I’ve no problem with their method of buying but I don’t want to be fooled into thinking they are an exceptional dealer just because of an affiliation with a well-known organisation like the RAC.

The best way to buy a used car is to arm yourself with the knowledge that will guide you to do it yourself. 

The Used Car Guy

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